It’s never really about a place, not even if the place is Memphis. It’s always about the people:

Bill Black: b. 1926 Memphis, TN d. 1965, Memphis, TN

Dewey Phillips: b. 1926, Crump, TN d. 1968, Memphis, TN

Elvis Presley: b. 1935, Tupelo, MS d. 1977, Memphis, TN

Marion Keisker: b. 1917, Memphis, TN d. 1989, Memphis, TN

Sam Phillips: b. 1923, Florence, AL d. 2003, Memphis, TN

Scotty Moore: b. 1931, Gadsden, TN d. 2016, Nashville, TN

As of now, they’ve said all they have to say. The rest of us will just have to make of it what we will. And get along the best we can without them.

LOS ANGELES - JUNE 4: Elvis Presley and Scotty Moore rehearse for their appearance on the Milton Berle Show at the NBC Burbank studios on June 4 1956 in Los Angeles California. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)



Well, to Memphis anyway. By complete coincidence it was Elvis week. I spent the actual anniversary of his death at the Pink Palace, which is a genuinely great museum anyway, viewing the exhibit of Alfred Wertheimer’s mindbending candid photos of Elvis in ’56.

The next morning, I met a friend in a train station and he’s modern and all, so he carries a camera about with him. Hence, Friday morning went like this:

The approach to Mecca

The approach to Mecca…

Me being me in front of "the Door"...

Me being me in front of “the Door”…


It might look

Quiet time before the crowd arrives (about two minutes before as it happened…It may look like I’m praying…actually I’m engaging in another hallowed Southern tradition…I’m buying a coke. Prayer time was later.)

The first time I visited the Sun Studio was in the late eighties. They had just opened as a “museum” and it was basically a few 8 X 10 glossies (maybe 15 or 20) on the wall, some recording equipment, and a college age dude who knew less about the place than I did. You could walk in off the street. Can’t remember if they were charging money yet or not. Anyway, from all the photos on the wall back then, this girl was the one person I couldn’t place…Thought she might be local…These days, Miss Wood guards the entrance.


The tour begins...

The tour begins…

Trust me, I'm more impressed than I look...

Trust me, I’m more impressed than I look!

Gladys’ persistence pays off….

The way it was in ’53….Lest we forget.

The desk! Thank you Marion.

Ms. Keisker’s view in the summer of ’53…

The mystic chords of memory…

Don’t worry…I’m still impressed…The place just might be getting to me!

“If I thought it would do any good, I’d stand on the rock where Moses stood.”…Failing that, I’ll kneel on the floor where Elvis recorded “That’s All Right”! (This is not the camera being out of focus, incidentally. That’s just the ground shaking!)

And then…The lightning! (See, I told you it was getting to me!)

And that was it for Memphis…As there really wasn’t any way to top this, we headed to Shiloh on Friday afternoon…About which, more tomorrow. Call it the Southland tour.

(All photos courtesy of Dan Watson. Many thanks. For once, I’m actually glad there are pictures.)